Wednesday, April 07, 2021

CrimeFest Awards 2021 - Shortlists

Here are the shortlisted titles for the CrimeFest Awards 2021.

From the Press Release:

CRIMEFEST, one of Europe’s leading crime writing conventions, has announced the shortlists for its annual awards.

The awards feature the Specsavers Debut Crime Novel Award, the winner of which receives a £1,000 prize.

A further £1,000 prize fund is also awarded to the Audible Sounds of Crime Award, sponsored by Audible.

Up for the hotly-contended Specsavers Debut Crime Novel Award is Richard Osman, who ruled the bestseller lists with his smash-hit, The Thursday Murder Club. The shortlist also features Trevor Wood, who won the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger in 2020, for The Man on the Street.

Sheila Michell's biography of her husband - and namesake of the H.R.F. Keating Award – is in contention for the best biographical or critical book in the genre. Michell’s HRF Keating: A Life of Crime has been hailed as the definitive portrait of the artist and man.

The H.R.F Keating Award also features Martin Edwards, editor of HowDunit: A Masterclass in Crime Writing by Members of the Detection Club, which has also been nominated for the 2021 Edgar Allen Poe Award. Also in contention is Heather Martin, an academic, linguist and author of the definitive Lee Child biography, The Reacher Guy.

The Last Laugh Award sees debut-author Richard Osman return as he is pitted against stalwarts of the genre, including Elly Griffiths and Carl Hiaasen.

Osman, who dominates the shortlists, is also up for the Audible Sounds of Crime Award. The Pointless TV-star is up against veritable giants of the genre, including Robert Galbraith, Ian Rankin and Lynda La Plante. Voted by Audible subscribers, the shortlist also sees last year’s winner Lee Child return, with his brother Andrew, for The Sentinel, read by Jeff Harding.

Laurence Howell, Vice President, Content at Audible said: “We are delighted to continue as sponsor of the Audible Sounds of Crime Award. With the isolation and social distancing of the last year, audio books have been a great comfort to many because of the intimate, immersive nature of audiobooks. Crime and thriller audiobooks remain one of our bestselling genres, as perhaps more of us seek escapism and entertainment in these trying times. Congratulations to all award nominees.”

The eDunnit Award, for best e-book, sees established names of the genre Ian Rankin, Michael Connelly and James Lee Burke up against the young Australian Gabriel Bergmoser, a multi-award-winning screenwriter, playwright and author who is already a phenomenon in his own country.

Best Crime Novel for Children, aged 8-12, features giant of the genre Anthony Horowitz for Nightshade, from the popular Alex Rider series. The shortlist also sees the founder of Making Herstory, a human rights organisation working to end trafficking and abuse, and bestselling children’s author, Onjali Q. Rauf, for The Night Bus Hero.

Best Crime Novel for Young Adults, aged 12-16, features Enola Holmes: The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer, which was released last year to coincide with the Netflix adaptation, starring Millie Bobby Brown. The list also features the multi-award-winning author Patrice Lawrence, who won the CRIMEFEST award in 2018 for Indigo Donut. Lawrence is in contention this year for Eight Pieces of Silva, an addictive tale of a teenager’s hunt for her missing sister.

Now in its 14th year, the awards honour the best crime books released in 2020 in the UK.

Adrian Muller, Co-host of CRIMEFEST, said: “CRIMEFEST usually takes place in May, and although we had to cancel our physical convention this year, it’s important to continue these awards. They’ve built up a strong reputation after so many years, and we are thankful to both Audible and to Specsavers for their on-going support.”

CRIMEFEST has had to postpone its 2020 and 2021 conventions, due to Covid restrictions. Hosted in Bristol, it is one of the biggest crime fiction events in Europe, and one of the most popular dates in the international crime fiction calendar, with circa 60 panel events and 150 authors over four days.

In light of Covid-19, the 2021 winners will be announced online at and via its social media pages this summer.

All category winners will receive a Bristol Blue commemorative Glass Award.

Leading British crime fiction reviewers and reviewers of fiction for children and young adults form the CRIMEFEST judging panels, aside from Audible Sounds in which Audible listeners establish the shortlist and the winning title.

Co-host of CRIMEFEST, Donna Moore, added: “As well as the debut awards, we are one of the few genre awards that recognise e-books and audiobooks, humour, children and Young Adult crime fiction novels. We aim to be the most inclusive of awards to reflect the values of our convention.”

CRIMEFEST was created following the hugely successful one-off visit to Bristol in 2006 of the American Left Coast Crime convention. It was established in 2008. It follows the egalitarian format of most US conventions, making it open to all commercially published authors and readers alike.


The Shortlists 


Eva Bjorg Aegisdottir for The Creak on the Stairs (Orenda Books)

Marion Brunet for Summer of Reckoning (Bitter Lemon Press)

Robin Morgan-Bentley for The Wreckage (Trapeze)

Richard Osman for The Thursday Murder Club (Viking)

Mara Timon for City of Spies (Zaffre)

Trevor Wood for The Man on the Street  (Quercus)



Lee and Andrew Child for The Sentinel, read by Jeff Harding (Transworld)

Lucy Foley for The Guest List read by Olivia Dowd, Aoife McMahon, Chloe Massey, Sarah Ovens, Rich Keeble and Jot Davies (HarperFiction)

Robert Galbraith for Troubled Blood read by Robert Glenister (Little, Brown Book Group)

Anthony Horowitz for Moonflower Murders read by Lesley Manville and Allan Corduner (Penguin Random House Audio)

Peter James for Find Them Dead read by Daniel Weyman (Pan)

Lisa Jewell for The Invisible Girl read by Rebekah Staton (Penguin Random House Audio)

Lynda La Plante for Buried read by Alex Hassell and Annie Aldington (Zaffre)

TM Logan for The Catch read by Philip Stevens (Zaffre)

Richard Osman for The Thursday Murder Club read by Lesley Manville (Viking)

Ian Rankin for A Song for the Dark Times read by James Macpherson (Orion)


Mark Aldridge for Agatha Christie’s Poirot: The Greatest Detective in the World (HarperCollins)

Martin Edwards (editor) for Howdunit: A Masterclass in Crime Writing by Members of the Detection Club (Collins Crime Club)

Colin Larkin for Cover Me: The Vintage Art of Pan Books: 1950-1965 (Telos Publishing)

Andrew Lycett for Conan Doyle’s Wide World (Tauris Parke)

Heather Martin for The Reacher Guy (Little, Brown Book Group)

Sheila Mitchell for HRF Keating: A Life of Crime (Level Best Books)

Craig Sisterson for Southern Cross Crime: The Pocket Essential Guide to the Crime Fiction, Film & TV of Australia and New Zealand (Oldcastle Books)

Peter Temple for The Red Hand: Stories, reflections and the last appearance of Jack Irish (riverrun)



Ben Aaronovitch for False Value (Gollancz)

Christopher Fowler for Bryant & May - Oranges and Lemons (Doubleday)

Elly Griffiths for The Postscript Murders (Quercus)

Carl Hiaasen for Squeeze Me (Little, Brown Book Group)

Richard Osman for The Thursday Murder Club (Viking)

Malcolm Pryce for The Corpse in the Garden of Perfect Brightness (Bloomsbury Publishing)

Khurrum Rahman for Ride or Die (HQ)

Olga Wojtas for Miss Blaine's Prefect and the Vampire Menace (Contraband)


Gabriel Bergmoser for The Hunted (Faber)

Sharon  Bolton for The Split (Trapeze) 

J. P. Carter for Little Boy Lost (Avon, HarperCollins)

Steve Cavanagh for Fifty-Fifty (Orion Fiction)

Michael Connelly for Fair Warning (Orion Fiction)

James Lee Burke for A Private Cathedral (Orion Fiction)

Ian Rankin for A Song for the Dark Times (Orion Fiction)

Holly Watt for The Dead Line (Raven Books)



Sophie Deen for Mission Shark Bytes (Walker Books)

Elly Griffiths for A Girl Called Justice - The Smugglers' Secret (Imprint - Quercus Children's Books)

Anthony Horowitz for Nightshade (Walker Books)

Jack Noel for My Headteacher is an Evil Genius (Walker Books)

Serena Patel for Anisha, Accidental Detective (Usborne Publishing)

Serena Patel for School's Cancelled (Usborne Publishing)

Onjali Q. Rauf for The Night Bus Hero (Imprint - Orion Children's Books)

Dave Shelton for The Pencil Case (David Fickling Books)



William Hussey for Hideous Beauty (Usborne Publishing)

Lauren James for The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker (Walker Books)

Matt Killeen for Devil Darling Spy (Usborne Publishing)

Patrice Lawrence for Eight Pieces of Silva (Imprint - Hodder Children's Books)

Simon Lelic for Deadfall (Imprint - Hodder Children's Books)

Robert Muchamore for Hacking, Heists & Flaming Arrows (Hot Key Books)

Patrick Ness for Burn (Walker Books)

Nancy Springer for The Case of the Missing Marquess (Hot Key Books)

Friday, April 02, 2021

New Releases - April 2021

Here's a snapshot of what I think is published for the first time in April 2021 (and is usually a UK date but occasionally will be a US or Australian date). April and future months (and years) can be found on the Future Releases page. If I've missed anything or got the date wrong, do please leave a comment.

• Arriaga, Guillermo - The Untameable
• Bailey, Anna - Tall Bones (apa Where the Truth Lies)
• Barnes, Kerry - The Choice #3 Hunted
• Bilal, Parker - Whitehavens
• Blau, Sarah - The Others
• Blok, Rachael - Into the Fire #3 DCI Jansen, St Albans
• Bodrozic, Ivana - We Trade Our Night for Someone Else's Day
• Bridgestock, R C - Condemned #2 DI Charley Mann, Yorkshire
• Camilleri, Andrea - The Cook of the Halcyon #27 Inspector Montalbano, Sicily, Italy
• Carne, Ros - The Stepmother
• Chong, Mairi - Death By Appointment #1 Dr Cathy Moreland Prequel
• Clare, Alys - The Lammas Wild #10 Lassair, 11thC, East Anglia
• Cox, Helen - A Witch Hunt in Whitby #5 Kitt Hartley, Yorkshire
• Cummins, Fiona - When I Was Ten
• Davis, Lindsey - A Comedy of Terrors #9 Flavia Albia, the adopted daughter of Marcus Didius Falco
• de la Motte, Anders - Rites of Spring #4 Seasons Quartet • Delargy, James - Vanished
• Eccles, Marjorie - Darkness Beyond #5 Detective Inspector Herbert Reardon, 1928
• Elliott, C M - Sibanda and the Black Sparrow Hawk #3 Detective Sibanda
• Faulkner, Katherine - Greenwich Park
• Gallagher, Charlie - The Friend #1 DI Joel Norris
• Gerlis, Alex - End of Spies #4 Richard Prince, 1945
• Greenwood, Ross - Prisoner (ebook only)
• Guttridge, Peter - Butcher's Wood #8 Brighton series
• Harris, C S - What the Devil Knows #16 Sebastian St. Cyr, Regency England
• Hawksley, Humphrey - Man on Fire #3 Rake Ozenna
• Hollingdrake, Malcolm - Catch as Catch Can #1 Merseyside Crime Series
• Huber, Anna Lee - A Wicked Conceit #9 Lady Darby, Scotland, 1830s
• Hunter, Cara - The Whole Truth #5 DI Adam Fawley, Oxford
• Hunter, M A - Trafficked #3 The Missing Children Case Files
• Isaka, Kotaro - Bullet Train
• James, Christina - De Vries #9 Detective Inspector Tim Yates, South Lincolnshire Fens
• Jones, Philip Gwynne - The Venetian Legacy #5 Nathan Sutherland
• Kelly, Erin - Watch Her Fall
• Kirk, Margaret - In the Blood #3 ex-Met Detective Inspector Lukas Mahler, Inverness
• Kot, Danuta - Someone Who Isn't Me
• La Plante, Lynda - Judas Horse #2 DC Jack Warr
• Landers, Brian - Exodus of Spies #4 Thomas Dylan, MI6 agent
• Lewis, Susan - The Lost Hours
• Longworth, M L - The Vanishing Museum on the Rue Mistral #9 Verlaque and Bonnet, Aix-en-Provence
• Lynch, Rachel - The Rift
• MacBird, Bonnie - The Three Locks #4 Sherlock Holmes Adventure
• Maitland, Karen - The Drowned City (as K J Maitland) #1 Daniel Pursglove • Marston, Edward - Tragedy on the Branch Line #19 Det. Insp Colbeck, Scotland Yard, mid 19th Century
• Maslen, Andy - Land Rites #2 DI Ford
• McDonald, Christina - Do No Harm
• Mendoza, Elmer - Kiss the Detective #4 Detective Edgar "Lefty" Mendieta
• Mir, Saima - The Khan
• Mistry, Liz - Dark Memories #3 DS Nikki Parekh
• Morgan, Phoebe - The Wild Girls
• Mullins, Louise - Kiss Me, Kill Me #2 DI Emma Locke
• Naughton, Sarah J - The Festival
• Nordin, Karen - Where Ravens Roost #1 Detective Kjeld Nygaard, Sweden
• Paris, B A - The Therapist
• Pattison, Nell - The Silent Suspect #3 Paige Northwood, sign language interpreter
• Pearce, Bryony - The Girl on the Platform
• Perks, Heidi - The Whispers
• Perry, Anne - A Darker Reality #3 Elena Standish, Photographer, 1930s
• Perry, S W - The Heretic's Mark #4 Nicholas Shelby, Elizabethan Era
• Pinnock, Jonathan - Bad Day in Minsk #4 Tom Winscombe
• Porter, Henry - The Old Enemy #3 Paul Samson
• Power, Kevin - White City
• Redmond, Lissa Marie - The Parting Glass #5 Cold Case Detective Lauren Riley
• Richards, Malcolm - Circle Of Bones #1 PI Blake Hollow, Cornwall
• Scarlett, Helen - The Deception of Harriet Fleet
• Seddon, Holly - The Hit List
• Seymour, Gerald - The Crocodile Hunter
• Shaw, Alex - Total Fallout #2 Jack Tate, ex-SAS
• Siger, Jeffrey - A Deadly Twist #11 Former Athens police chief Andreas Kaldis & local police chief Tassos Stamatos, Mykonos
• Silver, Abi - The Rapunzel Act #4 Burton and Lamb
• Skördeman, Gustaf - Geiger
• Smith, Nikki - Look What You Made Me Do
• Stafford, David - Skelton's Guide to Suitcase Murders #2 Arthur Skelton, Barrister
• Takamura, Kaoru - Lady Joker
• Taylor, Andrew - The Royal Secret #5 Ashes of London series
• Taylor, C L - Her Last Holiday
• Thomas, Russ - Nighthawking #2 Detective Sergeant Adam Tyler, South Yorkshire
• Thomas, Will - Dance with Death #12 Barker and Llewelyn, Victorian London
• Thomson, E S - Nightshade #5 Jem Flockhart, Apothecary, 1850s
• Tyler, L C - Farewell My Herring #9 Ethelred Tressider, author & Elsie Thirkettle, agent
• Valentine, V L - The Plague Letters
• Walter, B P - The Dinner Guest
• Weaver, Tim - Missing Pieces
• Wharton, Anna - The Imposter
• Wolff, James - How to Betray Your Country

Friday, March 19, 2021

Review: Enola Holmes: The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer

I recently posted my review of ENOLA HOLMES: THE CASE OF THE MISSING MARQUESS by Nancy Springer on my library's Facebook page.

ENOLA HOLMES: THE CASE OF THE MISSING MARQUESS by Nancy Springer is the first in a six-book series featuring the hitherto unknown younger sister of famous Victorian detective Sherlock Holmes. First published in the United States in 2006, the recent Netflix film has led to the series being published in paperback in the UK. [NB. The final two books in the series are available as audiobooks via Overdrive/Libby and as CD copies in the library].
Enola and her mother having been living in the country with little to no contact with Enola’s elder brothers Mycroft and Sherlock. Enola is very bright but has not had a conventional education. On Enola’s fourteenth birthday, her mother disappears, without it seems, a trace. Enter the brothers. Shocked by the state of the house and Enola, Mycroft arranges for Enola to attend boarding school.
Enola thinks otherwise and sets off to find her mother, using some clues that her mother left behind for her…alone.
Enola’s journey to London overlaps with a missing person’s case, which she cannot ignore and so lands herself in a lot of danger however she is intelligent enough to save the day.
This is a short book and the first half is Enola escaping her brother’s intentions, and the second half is her escapades in London. It very much sets up the series with Enola becoming not a detective like her brother but a finder of lost things. And there is the ongoing mystery of her mother’s whereabouts.
This is an enjoyable mystery set in the Victorian Era with a humorous, resourceful and quick-witted heroine. Due to some briefly referenced adult themes, it is more of a teenage book than junior fiction.
Also available in the teenage section, is the ‘Young Sherlock’ series by Andrew Lane.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Review: The Highland Falcon Thief by M.G. Leonard & Sam Sedgman, illustrated by Elisa Paganelli

I recently posted my review of THE HIGHLAND FALCON THIEF by M.G. Leonard & Sam Sedgman, illustrated by Elisa Paganelli, on my library's Facebook page.

THE HIGHLAND FALCON THIEF by M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman, illustrated by Elisa Paganelli, is the first in the “Adventures on Trains” series which will number four entries by the end of 2021 and is aimed at readers aged nine-years-old or older.
The Highland Falcon is the name of a steam engine which, on its final commemorative voyage, is doing a lap of the UK, from London and back, with a stop off at Balmoral in Scotland to pick up the (unnamed) prince and princess who will wave from the train as it passes slowly through stations and show off the magnificent Atlas Diamond necklace.
Our hero is eleven-year-old Hal who is, at first reluctantly, joining his travel writer Uncle Nat on this Royal Train. Hal thinks he’s the only child on the train and is disappointed to not be able to play his electronic games. He is a talented artist, however, and settles for sketching. When Hal spots a girl hiding in the out of bounds part of the train, he tracks her down and together they decide to track down the jewel thief who has struck at least once already, and with the priceless Royal jewel coming aboard they know what the thief’s next target will be.
Things of course do not go to plan, and Hal has to be very brave to save the day and later reveal the culprit in a classic “get all the suspects together in the dining room” denouement.
From its striking foiled cover to the high-quality drawings inside, this is a very attractive book and it is complemented by an exciting and informative story. Readers will pick up some history of the railway whilst trying to solve the puzzle of who is stealing and where are the stolen goods being hidden? The solution to the latter should appeal to the target audience!
THE HIGHLAND FALCON THIEF has unsurprisingly won several awards including the ‘2020 Books Are My Bag readers awards’ for Children’s Fiction.

Monday, March 01, 2021

New Releases - March 2021

Here's a snapshot of what I think is published for the first time in March 2021 (and is usually a UK date but occasionally will be a US or Australian date). March and future months (and years) can be found on the Future Releases page. If I've missed anything or got the date wrong, do please leave a comment.

• Alexander, Tasha - The Dark Heart of Florence #15 Lady Emily
• Amphlett, Rachel - Assassins Rogue #2 English Assassins Trilogy
• Bannalec, Jean-Luc - The Granite Coast Murders #6 Commissioner Dupin
• Bell, Natasha - This Nowhere Place
• Brookmyre, Christopher - The Cut
• Buchholz, Simone - Hotel Cartagena #4 Chastity Riley
• Buckley, Fiona - Forest of Secrets #19 Ursula Blanchard, an Elizabethan lady
• Butler, D S - On Cold Ground #5 DS Karen Hart, Lincolnshire
• Carofiglio, Gianrico - The Measure of Time #6 Guido Guerrieri, Lawyer, Bari
• Carter, Alan - Doom Creek #2 Nick Chester, New Zealand
• Chung, Maxine Mei-Fung - The Eighth Girl
• Clark, Cassandra - Murder at Beaulieu Abbey #11 Hildegard, Nun, 14thC, Yorkshire
• Clarke, Lucy - The Castaways
• Clark-Platts, Alice - The Disappearance of Charlotte Dove
• Cole, Karen - Destroy Me
• Dams, Jeanne M - The Bath Conspiracy #24 Dorothy Martin
• Davies, Merilyn - If I Fall
• Dicker, Joël - The Disappearance of Stephanie Mailer
• Finlay, Caz - Liverpool Loyalty #4 Bad Blood
• Fullerton, John - Spy Game
• Goddard, Robert - The Fine Art of Invisible Detection
• Gray, Alex - Before the Storm #18 DCI Lorimer & psychologist Solomon Brightman, Glasgow
• Hawkswood, Sarah - Blood Runs Thicker #8 Bradecote and Catchpoll, Worcestershire, C12
• Heald, Ruth - The Wedding
• Heley, Veronica - Murder-In-Law #21 Ellie Quicke, widow, London suburbs
• Hill, M K - The Woman in the Wood #2 DI Sasha Dawson, Essex
• Hollister, Sarah & Reavill, Gil - This Land is No Stranger
• Hollow, Mike - The Dockland Murder #5 Blitz Detective
• Ison, Graham - Hardcastle's Secret Agent #16 DI Hardcastle, 1900s
• Judd, Alan - A Fine Madness
• Kara, Lesley - The Dare
• Kinsey, T E - The Deadly Mystery of the Missing Diamonds #1 Dizzy Heights
• Kovach, Carla - The Broken Ones #8 Detective Gina Harte
• Lawton, Sarah - All The Little Things
• Lee, M J - When the Evil Waits #6 DI Ridpath
• Leon, Donna - Transient Desires #30 Commissario Guido Brunetti, Venice
• Lillegraven, Ruth - Everything Is Mine
• Lodge, Gytha - Lie Beside Me #3 DCI Jonah Sheens
• Logan, TM - Trust Me
• MacDonald, C C - The Family Friend
• Mark, David - Cages
• McGilloway, Brian - Blood Ties #6 Garda Inspector Benedict Devlin
• McLean, Rachel - Deadly Reprisal #5 DI Zoe Finch, West Midlands
• Musso, Guillaume - Central Park
• Parker, R J - The Good Neighbour
• Parks, Alan - The April Dead #4 Harry McCoy, Police Officer, Glasgow, 1973
• Quintana, Jenny - The Hiding Place
• Raybourn, Deanna - An Unexpected Peril #6 Veronica Speedwell, adventuress and butterfly hunter, Victorian London
• Ripley, Mike - Mr Campion's Coven #8 Albert Campion
• Sáenz, Eva García - The Water Rituals #2 Inspector Unai Lopez de Ayala
• Saxon, Diane - The Ex #4 DS Jenna Morgan
• Scarrow, Simon - Blackout
• Sharland, Louise - The Lake
• Smith, Anna - Framed #4 Kerry Casey, Glasgow
• Steiner, Peter - The Constant Man #2 Detective Willi Geismeier, Munich, 1920
• Stonex, Emma - The Lamplighters
• Szymiczkowa, Maryla - Karolina, or the Torn Curtain #2 Zofia Turbotynska
• Todd, Charles - A Fatal Lie #23 Insp Rutledge
• Walsh, Jackie - Five Little Words
• Wignall, Kevin - Those Who Disappeared
• Winspear, Jacqueline - The Consequences of Fear #16 Maisie Dobbs, Psychologist and Investigator, 1930s London

Friday, February 26, 2021

Review: The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

I recently posted my review of THE THURSDAY MURDER CLUB by Richard Osman, on my library's Facebook page.

THE THURSDAY MURDER CLUB is ‘National Treasure’ Richard Osman’s debut crime novel and a sequel is on its way. The titular club meets on a Thursday to discuss old/unsolved murder cases and the four current members are Elizabeth, newcomer Joyce, Ron and Ibrahim and they reside in Coopers Chase Retirement Village in leafy Kent.
They soon have a current murder to investigate when one of the builders of the Village is found bludgeoned to death shortly after an argument with his business partner.
Elizabeth, a former secret agent by all accounts, has fingers in many pies and that includes the local police force, following a routine visit from PC Donna who only went there to talk about home security.
Elizabeth is soon at work, getting Donna onto the Murder Squad led by DCI Chris with a view to both teams sharing information.
When a second murder occurs, it brings things closer to home as it seems a killer might live at the Village.
Will Team Elizabeth get to the truth before Team Donna?
This is a very enjoyable read. It’s funny and the characters are a joy. Often in amateur-detective novels the police are portrayed as a bit dim, but Donna and Chris are anything but. Indeed, all the characters are likeable including a few “lovable rogues”. The storytelling is breezy with short chapters and a variety of points of view, interspersed with diary entries from Joyce. It’s well plotted with mystery upon mystery with long-buried secrets reluctantly being revealed.
If you like the sound of this then you might also want to try Simon Brett’s Fethering books, and his Mrs Pargeter series.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Review: The Mist by Ragnar Jónasson, tr. Victoria Cribb

I recently posted my review of THE MIST by Ragnar Jónasson, translated by Victoria Cribb, on my library's Facebook page.

My latest #bookreview is for the chilling (in more than one sense) Icelandic thriller, that is THE MIST by Ragnar Jónasson, translated by Victoria Cribb.
THE MIST is the final (or first?) part of the Detective Hulda Hermannsdóttir trilogy set in Iceland. This trilogy is unusual in that the first book published, THE DARKNESS, is set in more recent times and at the end of Hulda’s career; the middle book, THE ISLAND, is set in 1997 and THE MIST is set in 1987/8.
Taking place at Christmastime the first half of THE MIST revolves around a remote farmhouse in East Iceland. The middle-aged couple who live there are cut-off from the nearest village for several months each snowy winter and so it is most unexpected when they receive a knock on the door. Their visitor claims to be a hunter, separated from his friends. The sense of isolation increases when first the telephone fails and then there is a power cut.
Alongside an increasingly fraught situation at the farmhouse we have Hulda and her family life. Her thirteen-year-old daughter has become moody and withdrawn and when she doesn’t take part in the Christmas festivities things come to a head.
Flash forward two months and the two narratives entwine with Hulda sent from Reykjavik to investigate the discovery of several bodies in a remote farmhouse…
THE MIST is not a long book and makes for a very quick read. The farmhouse-visitor episode is quite nail-biting and lasts quite a while, before there is at least a partial resolution. Readers of the earlier books will be familiar with what’s happening with Hulda’s family but even so, or perhaps because of, it also makes for a tense read. There’s a clever resolution to several mysteries and the wintry, forbidding, claustrophobic setting is well portrayed.
If this is your first outing with Hulda, you’ll be inclined to read more. If it’s your final, you’ll wish it had been a longer series.
Also included is a bonus short story which features policeman Ari Thor from Ragnar Jónasson’s other series, the first of which, SNOWBLIND, also has a wintry setting.

Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Scandi-Brits in Iceland

Scandi-Brits is a term (I believe) coined by Scandi expert Barry Forshaw to cover those from Britain writing about Scandinavia/Nordic countries in English. I'm going to loosen it slightly for this post so I can include a few non-Brits. I'm starting with Iceland and please let me know any titles I've missed.

For Icelandic authors please see my list on the Euro Crime website.

My own interest in Iceland was piqued by the TV series Running Blind based on Desmond Bagley's 1970 novel which was shown in 1979. Never released for home viewing, you can now watch it on YouTube.

The assignment begins with a simple errand – a parcel to deliver. But to Alan Stewart, standing on a deserted road in Iceland with a murdered man at his feet, it looks anything but simple. The desolate terrain is obstacle enough. But when Stewart realises he has been double-crossed and that the opposition is gaining ground, his simple mission seems impossible…

More recently we have had Quentin Bates and Michael Ridpath setting series there:

Frozen Out (2011) by Quentin Bates is the first book in the Sergeant Gunnhildur series. Currently there are 7 novels and two novellas.

Where the Shadows Lie (2010) by Michael Ridpath is the first of  five novels and a couple of short stories featuring Magnus Jonson, an American-Icelandic detective.

In 2016, Adam Lebor's The Reykjavik Assignment was published. This is the third in a globe-trotting series featuring UN negotiator Yael Azoulay.

UN covert negotiator, Yael Azoulay, has been sent to Reykjavik to broker a secret meeting between US President Freshwater and the Iranian president. Both parties want the violence to stop, but Yael soon realises that powerful enemies are pulling the strings. Enemies for whom peace means an end to their lucrative profit streams. 

Australian author, Hannah Kent's Burial Rites came out in 2013.

Northern Iceland, 1829.

A woman condemned to death for murdering her lover.

A family forced to take her in.

A priest tasked with absolving her.

But all is not as it seems, and time is running out:

winter is coming, and with it the execution date.

Only she can know the truth. This is Agnes's story.

The Glass Woman by Caroline Lea was published in 2019.

When Rósa is betrothed to Jón Eiríksson, she is sent to a remote village.

There she finds a man who refuses to speak of his recently deceased first wife, and villagers who view her with suspicion.

Isolated and disturbed by her husband's strange behaviour, her fears deepen.

What is making the strange sounds in the attic?

Who does the mysterious glass figure she is given represent?

And why do the villagers talk of the coming winter darkness in hushed tones?

New Zealand author Grant Nicol has written a five book series: The Grimur Karlsson Mysteries, which begins with 2016's On a Small Island.

In the space of a few days, Ylfa Einarsdóttir sees her peaceful existence in downtown Reykjavík turned on its head. Some unexpected news from one of her sisters and a brutal murder that’s far too close to home for comfort leave her wondering why life has turned on her so suddenly.

When the police fail to take her seriously, her hands-on approach to the investigation soon lands her in hot water.

Following a string of biblical messages left behind by a mysterious nemesis she stumbles upon a dark secret that has finally come home to roost.

As she is about to find out, on a small island, what goes around, comes around.

Northern Light (2018) by Danish author (writing in English) Christoffer Petersen is the first in the PolarPol series and is set in Iceland.

The Icelandic interior, uninhabited, glacial, volcanic, and accessible only in summer, is the last place to be in winter. But during an assassination attempt on the world’s leading cybercrime specialist at a conference in Reykjavík, it's the only place left to hide.

When the Icelandic State Police run out of resources, responsibility for hunting the assassins is given to the Polar Task Force, and it is native Icelander Hákon Sigurdsson’s job to lead a team into the interior.

Plagued by political agendas of sovereignty and power, the Polar Task Force, including members chosen from each of the countries located in the Arctic, needs a win to ensure the survival of the unit. The pressure is on, and it is up to Hákon to choose his team, complete the mission, and bring them back alive.

For any other task force, a winter pursuit of well-armed assassins into Iceland’s interior is nothing short of madness.

American author Betty Webb's The Puffin of Death (2015), the fourth in her Gunn Zoo series, visits Iceland in this outing.

California zookeeper Theodora Bentley travels to Iceland to pick up an orphaned polar bear cub destined for the Gunn Zoo's newly installed Northern Climes exhibit. The trip is intended to be a combination of work and play.

But on day two, while horseback riding near a picturesque seaside village, Teddy discovers a man lying atop a puffin burrow, shot through the head. The victim is identified as American birdwatcher Simon Parr, winner of the largest Powerball payout in history. Is Teddy a witness - or a suspect? Others include not only Parr's wife, a famed suspense novelist, but fellow members of the birding club Parr had generously treated to their lavish Icelandic expedition. Hardly your average birders, several of them have had serious brushes with the law back in the States.

Guessing that an American would best understand other Americans, police detective Thorvaald Haraldsson grudgingly concedes her innocence and allows Teddy to tag along with the group to volcanoes, glaciers, and deep continental rifts in quest of rare bird species. But once another member of the club is murdered and a rockfall barely misses Teddy's head, Haraldsson forbids her to continue. She ignores him and, in a stunning, solitary face-off with the killer in Iceland's wild interior, concludes an investigation at once exotic, thrilling, and rich in animal lore.

And finally, French author Fred Vargas's A Climate of Fear (2016) translated by Sian Reynolds,  has a large portion set in Iceland.

A woman is found dead in her bath. The murder has been disguised as a suicide and a strange symbol is discovered at the scene. Then the symbol is observed near a second victim, who ten years earlier had also taken part in a doomed expedition to Iceland. How are these deaths, and rumours of an Icelandic demon, linked to a secretive local society? And what does the mysterious sign mean? Commissaire Adamsberg is about to find out.

Update 10/2/21

Margot Livesey's The Flight of Gemma Hardy (2012), a Jane Eyre re-telling,  has an Icelandic connection.

Taken from her native Iceland to Scotland in the early 1950s when her widower father drowns at sea, young Gemma Hardy comes to live with her kindly uncle and his family. But his death leaves Gemma under the care of her resentful aunt, and she suddenly finds herself an unwelcome guest. Surviving oppressive years at a strict private school, Gemma ultimately finds a job as an au pair to the eight-year-old niece of Mr. Sinclair on the Orkney Islands—and here, at the mysterious and remote Blackbird Hall, Gemma's greatest trial begins.

Update 13/2/21

A R Kennedy's second book in the 'Traveler Cozy Mystery' series, RIP in Reykjavik goes to Iceland.

Traveling with your family can be murder.
One wedding party + one estranged mother = another vacation that goes array for Naomi.

Naomi is off on another international vacation. She thinks traveling with her mother will be the most difficult part of her trip until she meets the rest of the tour group—a wedding party. It only gets worse when she finds the groom dead. Everyone’s a suspect on her Icelandic tour of this stunning country.

Wednesday, February 03, 2021

TV News: Bloodlands Trailer

Here is a first look at Bloodlands, from Jed Mercurio and starring James Nesbitt. 

From the Radio Times website: "The miniseries stars Cold Feet’s James Nesbitt as a Northern Irish detective on the hunt for a serial killer known as Goliath, who murdered his wife."


Tuesday, February 02, 2021

Cover Theme: Children's Playgrounds II

The trend for swings on covers continues to thrive. My first post on this was back in January 2019. Here are a few new ones. [NB. New blogger doesn't let me arrange them as nicely!]


[<=This is the same cover as Kelley Armstrong's Wherever She Goes.]

Monday, February 01, 2021

New Releases - February 2021

Here's a snapshot of what I think is published for the first time in February 2021 (and is usually a UK date but occasionally will be a US or Australian date). February and future months (and years) can be found on the Future Releases page. If I've missed anything or got the date wrong, do please leave a comment.
• Adolfsson, Maria - The Fatal Isles #1 Doggerland trilogy
• Abbott, Rachel - Close Your Eyes #10 DI Tom Douglas
• Adams, R G - Allegation
• Allen, Hania - The Ice Hotel
• Bailey, Martine - The Prophet
• Baker, Tina - Call Me Mummy
• Bishop, D V - City of Vengeance #1 Cesare Aldo, Florence, 1536
• Black, P R - The Long Dark Road
• Blake, Robin - Secret Mischief #7 Titus Cragg, Coroner & Luke Fidelis, Doctor, 1740  Lancashire
• Craig, James - Circus Games #15 Inspector John Carlyle
• Cross, A J - Devil in the Detail #2 Will Traynor, Criminologist
• Díaz, Eloísa - Repentance
• Donnelly, Gary - Never Ask the Dead #3 DI Owen Sheen, Northern Ireland
• Duckworth, Charlotte - The Perfect Father
• Dunford, Caroline - Hope to Survive #2 Hope Stapleford, Secret Agent, 1939
• East, Philippa - Safe and Sound
• Ellory, R J - Proof of Life
• Ewart, Andrew - Replace You
• Fennell, David - The Art of Death #1 DI Grace Archer & DS Harry Quinn, London
• Fields, Helen - The Shadow Man
• Finch, Charles - An Extravagant Death #11 Charles Lenox, Victorian gentleman and armchair explorer
• Fitzek, Sebastian - Passenger 23
• Fois, Marcello - Valse Triste
• Griffiths, Elly - The Night Hawk #13 Dr Ruth Galloway, forensic archaeologist and DCI Harry Nelson
• Herron, Mick - Slough House #7 Slough House
• Hore, Rachel - A Beautiful Spy
• Horst & Enger -Smoke Screen #2 Alexander Blix
• Hunter, M A - Isolated #2 The Missing Children Case Files
• Jackson, Stina - The Last Snow
• Jarratt, Laura - Mother
• Khadra, Yasmina - Khalil
• Lark, J S - The Twins
• Leather, Stephen - The Hunting
• Lowe, Katie - Possession (apa The Murder of Graham Catton)
• Lowery, Christopher - Triple Jeopardy #4 African Diamonds
• Magson, Adrian - A Hostile State #5 Marc Portman
• Martinez, Guillermo - The Oxford Brotherhood
• Matheson, Nadine - The Jigsaw Man #1 DI Henley, London
• Muir, T F - The Murder List #10 DI Andy Gilchrist & team, St. Andrews
• O'Connor, Carlene - Murder in an Irish Bookshop #7 Siobhan O'Sullivan, Kilbane, County Cork
• O'Keeffe, Bernard - The Final Round #1 DI Garibaldi, Barnes, London
• Olguin, Sergio - The Foreign Girls #2 Veronica Rosenthal
• Oswald, James - What Will Burn #11 Detective Inspector McLean, Edinburgh
• Pearse, Sarah - The Sanatorium
• Quinn, Cate - Black Widows
• Ridpath, Michael - The Diplomat's Wife
• Ryan, Sadie - When He Finds You
• Sakhlecha, Trisha - Can You See Me Now?
• Sennen, Mark - Rogue Target #2 Holm & da Silva
• Shepherd-Robinson, Laura - Daughters of Night
• Sherratt, Mel - Good Girl #4 DS Grace Allendale
• Shindler, Will - The Killing Choice #2 DI Alex Finn & DC Mattie Paulsen, London
• Skuse, C J - Dead Head #3 Sweetpea
• Spencer, Sally - The Company
• Stirling, Joss - Red House #3 Jess Bridges
• Szymiczkowa, Maryla - Karolina, or the Torn Curtain
• Talbot, Catherine - A Good Father
• Todd, Marion - What They Knew #4 DI Clare Mackay
• Wyer, Carol - An Eye for an Eye #1 DI Kate Young, Staffordshire

Friday, January 29, 2021

Review: The Windsor Knot by S J Bennett

I recently posted my review of THE WINDSOR KNOT by SJ Bennett on my library's Facebook page:

THE WINDSOR KNOT is the first in a new series that features the Queen as a detective. It’s 2016 and the Queen is soon to celebrate her ninetieth birthday. Before that she holds a ‘dine and sleep’ (a real and regular event apparently) at Windsor Castle, her favourite residence. Included in the mix of the great and the good is a young and handsome Russian musician. Disaster strikes the next morning when his naked body is found in a wardrobe, strung up like a Tory MP”; the verdict being accidental death. The Queen is not so sure and suspects foul play. Though she cannot be seen to investigate she assigns the legwork to her very capable assistant private secretary Rozie and uses her own position to gently manipulate the Government investigators in the right direction. 

For all its outward appearance of being a ‘cosy’ read there is a bit more grit to it than that. As well as the manner of death, it also includes spying and drug-use as potential motives, but as this exchange between the Queen and Prince Philip shows, she’s unshockable: 

 “They forget. I’ve lived through a world war, that Ferguson girl and you in the Navy 

“And yet they think you’ll need smelling salts if they so much as hint at anything fruity. All they see is a little old lady in a hat.” 

This is an enjoyable “country house” mystery with any wrongdoers having had to have been on the premises due to the tight security arrangements. The plot is quite complicated and revolves around a significant clue, one that the Queen can assist with explaining. If you watch ‘The Crown’ or are interested in the Royal Family, then that will give an added dimension.